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This information is designed to provide an introduction to mentoring at Arizona State University and a gateway to mentoring resources.
The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.
~ Benjamin Disraeli
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.
~ John C. Crosby
What is a mentor?*
A mentor typically performs multiple roles, beyond that of an advisor. A mentor makes a special and often personal investment in the career development of a protégé. Often, a mentor is also:
* Adapted from the National Academy of Science's "Advisor, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On being a mentor to students in science and engineering."
What is a Mentoring Relationship?
Forms of mentoring can vary in modality and duration, and can encompass:
In academic settings mentoring occurs in a variety of relationships, including:
Importantly, mentoring involves a dynamic, two-way relationship that produces benefits for both protégé and mentor.
For the Protégé
For the Mentor
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
~ Winston Churchill
* Page contents adapted from the University of Toronto Faculty Mentorship Program.
Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.
~ Earl Gray Stevens
As noted elsewhere, a mentor wears many hats—sometimes a teacher, sometimes a role model, sometimes a friend. Patience is required to gauge the protégé’s needs and to respond by fulfilling the appropriate role. Giving direct advice might be easier, but far less effective, in many occasions than modeling an appropriate strategy/behavior or offering the support provided by active listening.
Acknowledging difficulties and recognizing efforts/accomplishments can help the protégé feel that they are not “all alone.”
Frank feedback about skills and performance are crucial to a protégé’s development and is unlikely to be available in other domains. Honest and open discussions about the mentor’s and protégé’s needs help ensure that the relationship remains productive and that both parties remain satisfied with their roles.
The amount of time required of the mentor depends upon the nature of the mentoring relationship (see mentoring forms above) and the protégés’ needs. Initial and ongoing discussions of expectations between mentor and protégé can help ensure that the mentor’s availability meets the protégé’s needs. If the protégé’s needs exceed the mentor’s availability, then these open discussions provide an appropriate forum for exploring alternate mentoring resources or arrangements.
The mentoring relationship provides a valuable opportunity for the mentor to hone their own communication skills, while also helping to develop these skills in their protégé. The multiple roles of the mentor require different communication approaches and flexibility in their application. The array of modern communication media available (e.g., face-to-face conversation, phone, video conference, e-mail, instant messenger) present both challenges and opportunities for the relationship’s success and for the mentor’s skills development.
A successful mentor provides access to resources outside of their limited purview. Providing access to one’s personal network of colleagues links the protégé to a carefully developed web of resources. Actively demonstrating one’s networking skills models one of the skills that is most important for success in academia.
Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge